Nphet’s figures for Covid deaths questioned by Coroner

A Mayo coroner has said that the figures given by Nphet at Covid-19 briefings regarding the number of deaths from the virus “may be inaccurate”. 

The accuracy of the method of recording Covid deaths was called into question by Coronor Patrick O’Connor who said ‘cases where Covid is recorded as the principal cause of death when a person is already terminally ill’ should raise questions.

Mr O’Connor, a solicitor and Mayo Coroner, is also public information officer for the Coroners Society of Ireland.

He told reporter Louise Rosingrave: “In reality, a lot of people have terminal cancer or multiple other serious comorbidities. People can die from Covid and or with Covid. I think numbers that are recorded as Covid deaths may be inaccurate and do not have a scientific basis,” in an article in the Independent.

As of today, the HSE’s Covid Hub lists 4836 as the number of ‘total deaths’

“When a person is suffering from a number of medical conditions which will or may lead to their death at some short time in the future, if they are unlucky enough to be infected by the Covid virus then at death if they prove to be Covid positive in a test, it is that which is recorded as the principal cause of death — even though that person may have been terminally ill with a short life-expectancy prior to such testing,” Mr O’Connor said.

Mayo coroner and solicitor Patrick O’Connor believes the recorded death figures for the illness “do not have a scientific basis”.As of last Thursday, a total of 4,820 deaths related to Covid-19 have been recorded in Ireland.

But cases where Covid is recorded as the principal cause of death when a person is already terminally ill raise questions about the accuracy of the method of recording, said Mr O’Connor, who is public information officer for the Coroners Society of Ireland.

Covid-19 deaths do not usually require an inquest “because the illness is considered a pneumonia and therefore a natural cause of death”, Mr O’Connor  explained.

However, Mr O’Connor is to hold two inquests in Co Mayo into the deaths of 17-year-old Ballyhaunis student Sally Maaz and 79-year-old John Carolan from Ballina who both died after contracting the virus at Mayo University Hospital.

Reports from the HPSC say that 87% of those who had died to April 12th with Covid had underlying conditions.

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